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5 Ways Writing a Book Can Help Your Business

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5 Ways Writing a Book Can Help Your Business

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Lisa Evans

Lisa Evans
Guest Writer


4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


With self-publishing becoming easier, more and more entrepreneurs are able to reap the rewards of writing about their business. Putting pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – can instantly give you credibility, position you as an expert in your field and draw attention to your company.

Three entrepreneurs share how writing a book changed their business:

1. Find your focus. Personal organizer Julie Starr Hook, owner of Five Starr Organizing and Design , says writing her book “From Frazzled to Freedom” provided the unexpected benefit of helping her find the focus of her business. “Writing my book forced me to look at my strengths and weaknesses,” she says.

While writing about residential organizing of kitchens, bathrooms and offices came easy to Hook, she discovered she was much less comfortable with digital organizing.

“I recognized while writing this book that I don’t have to specialize in every area,” she says.

2. Give birth to a new business. David Niu, founder of TINYpulse , was a serial entrepreneur who decided to take a break from work to recharge and bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand for himself, his wife and then-10-month-old daughter. While travelling, he decided to interview entrepreneurs and CEOs about their best practices for managing people as he felt this was the area that caused his burnout. He kept a blog of all of the interviews, which later became a book “Careercation.”

Related: To Write a Best-selling Business Book, Hold Nothing Back

At the end of each interview, he asked a question: “What’s one pain point you have when it comes to managing people that if I took away you’d gladly pay for.” The answer was most often “when employees give two weeks’ notice out of the blue.” This became the birth of a new business – TINYpulse – a way for leaders to get a pulse on how happy, frustrated or burnt out their employees are so they can spark dialogue for positive change before the two weeks’ notice letters fly across managers’ desks.

3. Introduce your business to the public. When Lori Matzke, home-staging expert and owner of Center Stage Home , wrote her book “Home Staging: Creating Buyer-Friendly Rooms to Sell Your House” in 2004, the industry was small and unpopular. “When I solicited real estate agents, very few thought they needed the service because they didn’t really understand it,” she says.

The process of writing forced her to explain staging concepts in ways everyone could understand, something which she hadn’t previously done with clients and may have been standing in her way of making a sale. “It made me realize that if I could explain it [to clients in person], the staging concepts I was implementing would make much more sense to my clients and they would be far more apt to take my advice,” she says.

Related: 5 Steps to Writing a Best-Selling Book

4. Gain clients. Niu’s book has become a central part of TINYpulse’s marketing plan. He frequently sends out the book to prospective clients, highlighting a few passages about individuals who faced similar struggles to those the client has identified. “The book has been a great complement to what we do on a day-to-day basis,” says Niu.

5. Improve your personal credibility. “There’s something magical about saying you’re the author of a book,” says Niu. Attaching the title “author” to his bio has opened opportunities for speaking engagements that have helped him promote his business.

Matzke became a sought-after expert in home staging since writing her book and has made various TV appearances to speak about the topic.

Hook also credits her book with providing an opportunity for media exposure. She now appears as a regular guest on a popular morning show in her hometown, Portland, Ore., and says being an author has caused people to look to her as an expert.

“Not only do I have experience organizing people’s homes but [through writing the book] I’ve done a lot of research on the best ways to organize which helps set me apart from other professional organizers in the area,” she says.

Related: Want to Write a Book? Consider These 3 Self-Publishing Options.

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Created by Randy Ingermanson – “the Snowflake Guy”
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The Snowflake Method For Designing A Novel

Writing a novel is easy. Writing a good novel is hard. That’s just life. If it were easy, we’d all be writing best-selling, prize-winning fiction.

Frankly, there are a thousand different people out there who can tell you how to write a novel. There are a thousand different methods. The best one for you is the one that works for you.

In this article, I’d like to share with you what works for me. I’ve published six novels and won about a dozen awards for my writing. I teach the craft of writing fiction at writing conferences all the time. One of my most popular lectures is this one: How to write a novel using what I call the “Snowflake Method.”

This page is the most popular one on my web site, and gets over a thousand page views per day. Over the years, this page has been viewed more than six million times. So you can guess that a lot of people find it useful. But you may not, and that’s fine by me. Look it over, decide what might work for you, and ignore the rest! If it makes you dizzy, I won’t be insulted. Different writers are different. If my methods get you rolling, I’ll be happy. I’ll make the best case I can for my way of organizing things, but you are the final judge of what works best for you. Have fun and . . . write your novel!

The Importance of Design

Good fiction doesn’t just happen, it is designed. You can do the design work before or after you write your novel. I’ve done it both ways and I strongly believe that doing it first is quicker and leads to a better result. Design is hard work, so it’s important to find a guiding principle early on. This article will give you a powerful metaphor to guide your design.

Our fundamental question is this: How do you design a novel?

For a number of years, I was a software architect designing large software projects. I write novels the same way I write software, using the “snowflake metaphor”. OK, what’s the snowflake metaphor? Before you go further, take a look at this cool web site .

snowflake imageAt the top of the page, you’ll see a cute pattern known as a snowflake fractal. Don’t tell anyone, but this is an important mathematical object that’s been widely studied. For our purposes, it’s just a cool sketch of a snowflake. If you scroll down that same web page a little, you’ll see a box with a large triangle in it and arrows underneath. If you press the right-arrow button repeatedly, you’ll see the steps used to create the snowflake. It doesn’t look much like a snowflake at first, but after a few steps, it starts looking more and more like one, until it’s done.

The first few steps look like this:

snowflake iteration 1snowflake iteration

snowflake iteration 3

snowflake iteration 4

 

 

 

I claim that that’s how you design a novel — you start small, then build stuff up until it looks like a story. Part of this is creative work, and I can’t teach you how to do that. Not here, anyway. But part of the work is just managing your creativity — getting it organized into a well-structured novel. That’s what I’d like to teach you here.

If you’re like most people, you spend a long time thinking about your novel before you ever start writing. You may do some research. You daydream about how the story’s going to work. You brainstorm. You start hearing the voices of different characters. You think about what the book’s about — the Deep Theme. This is an essential part of every book which I call “composting”. It’s an informal process and every writer does it differently. I’m going to assume that you know how to compost your story ideas and that you have already got a novel well-composted in your mind and that you’re ready to sit down and start writing that novel.

The Ten Steps of Design

But before you start writing, you need to get organized. You need to put all those wonderful ideas down on paper in a form you can use. Why? Because your memory is fallible, and your creativity has probably left a lot of holes in your story — holes you need to fill in before you start writing your novel. You need a design document. And you need to produce it using a process that doesn’t kill your desire to actually write the story. Here is my ten-step process for writing a design document. I use this process for writing my novels, and I hope it will help you.

Step 1) Take an hour and write a one-sentence summary of your novel. Something like this: “A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the apostle Paul.” (This is the summary for my first novel, Transgression.) The sentence will serve you forever as a ten-second selling tool. This is the big picture, the analog of that big starting triangle in the snowflake picture.

When you later write your book proposal, this sentence should appear very early in the proposal. It’s the hook that will sell your book to your editor, to your committee, to the sales force, to bookstore owners, and ultimately to readers. So make the best one you can!

Some hints on what makes a good sentence:

  • Shorter is better. Try for fewer than 15 words.
  • No character names, please! Better to say “a handicapped trapeze artist” than “Jane Doe”.
  • Tie together the big picture and the personal picture. Which character has the most to lose in this story? Now tell me what he or she wants to win.
  • Read the one-line blurbs on the New York Times Bestseller list to learn how to do this. Writing a one-sentence description is an art form.

Step 2) Take another hour and expand that sentence to a full paragraph describing the story setup, major disasters, and ending of the novel. This is the analog of the second stage of the snowflake. I like to structure a story as “three disasters plus an ending”. Each of the disasters takes a quarter of the book to develop and the ending takes the final quarter. I don’t know if this is the ideal structure, it’s just my personal taste.

If you believe in the Three-Act structure, then the first disaster corresponds to the end of Act 1. The second disaster is the mid-point of Act 2. The third disaster is the end of Act 2, and forces Act 3 which wraps things up. It is OK to have the first disaster be caused by external circumstances, but I think that the second and third disasters should be caused by the protagonist’s attempts to “fix things”. Things just get worse and worse.

You can also use this paragraph in your proposal. Ideally, your paragraph will have about five sentences. One sentence to give me the backdrop and story setup. Then one sentence each for your three disasters. Then one more sentence to tell the ending. Don’t confuse this paragraph with the back-cover copy for your book. This paragraph summarizes the whole story. Your back-cover copy should summarize only about the first quarter of the story.

Step 3) The above gives you a high-level view of your novel. Now you need something similar for the storylines of each of your characters. Characters are the most important part of any novel, and the time you invest in designing them up front will pay off ten-fold when you start writing. For each of your major characters, take an hour and write a one-page summary sheet that tells:

  • The character’s name
  • A one-sentence summary of the character’s storyline
  • The character’s motivation (what does he/she want abstractly?)
  • The character’s goal (what does he/she want concretely?)
  • The character’s conflict (what prevents him/her from reaching this goal?)
  • The character’s epiphany (what will he/she learn, how will he/she change?
  • A one-paragraph summary of the character’s storyline

An important point: You may find that you need to go back and revise your one-sentence summary and/or your one-paragraph summary. Go ahead! This is good–it means your characters are teaching you things about your story. It’s always okay at any stage of the design process to go back and revise earlier stages. In fact, it’s not just okay–it’s inevitable. And it’s good. Any revisions you make now are revisions you won’t need to make later on to a clunky 400 page manuscript.

Another important point: It doesn’t have to be perfect. The purpose of each step in the design process is to advance you to the next step. Keep your forward momentum! You can always come back later and fix it when you understand the story better. You will do this too, unless you’re a lot smarter than I am.

Step 4) By this stage, you should have a good idea of the large-scale structure of your novel, and you have only spent a day or two. Well, truthfully, you may have spent as much as a week, but it doesn’t matter. If the story is broken, you know it now, rather than after investing 500 hours in a rambling first draft. So now just keep growing the story. Take several hours and expand each sentence of your summary paragraph into a full paragraph. All but the last paragraph should end in a disaster. The final paragraph should tell how the book ends.

This is a lot of fun, and at the end of the exercise, you have a pretty decent one-page skeleton of your novel. It’s okay if you can’t get it all onto one single-spaced page. What matters is that you are growing the ideas that will go into your story. You are expanding the conflict. You should now have a synopsis suitable for a proposal, although there is a better alternative for proposals . . .

Step 5) Take a day or two and write up a one-page description of each major character and a half-page description of the other important characters. These “character synopses” should tell the story from the point of view of each character. As always, feel free to cycle back to the earlier steps and make revisions as you learn cool stuff about your characters. I usually enjoy this step the most and lately, I have been putting the resulting “character synopses” into my proposals instead of a plot-based synopsis. Editors love character synopses, because editors love character-based fiction.

Step 6) By now, you have a solid story and several story-threads, one for each character. Now take a week and expand the one-page plot synopsis of the novel to a four-page synopsis. Basically, you will again be expanding each paragraph from step (4) into a full page. This is a lot of fun, because you are figuring out the high-level logic of the story and making strategic decisions. Here, you will definitely want to cycle back and fix things in the earlier steps as you gain insight into the story and new ideas whack you in the face.

Step 7) Take another week and expand your character descriptions into full-fledged character charts detailing everything there is to know about each character. The standard stuff such as birthdate, description, history, motivation, goal, etc. Most importantly, how will this character change by the end of the novel? This is an expansion of your work in step (3), and it will teach you a lot about your characters. You will probably go back and revise steps (1-6) as your characters become “real” to you and begin making petulant demands on the story. This is good — great fiction is character-driven. Take as much time as you need to do this, because you’re just saving time downstream. When you have finished this process, (and it may take a full month of solid effort to get here), you have most of what you need to write a proposal. If you are a published novelist, then you can write a proposal now and sell your novel before you write it. If you’re not yet published, then you’ll need to write your entire novel first before you can sell it. No, that’s not fair, but life isn’t fair and the world of fiction writing is especially unfair.

Step 8) You may or may not take a hiatus here, waiting for the book to sell. At some point, you’ve got to actually write the novel. Before you do that, there are a couple of things you can do to make that traumatic first draft easier. The first thing to do is to take that four-page synopsis and make a list of all the scenes that you’ll need to turn the story into a novel. And the easiest way to make that list is . . . with a spreadsheet.

For some reason, this is scary to a lot of writers. Oh the horror. Deal with it. You learned to use a word-processor. Spreadsheets are easier. You need to make a list of scenes, and spreadsheets were invented for making lists. If you need some tutoring, buy a book. There are a thousand out there, and one of them will work for you. It should take you less than a day to learn the itty bit you need. It’ll be the most valuable day you ever spent. Do it.

Make a spreadsheet detailing the scenes that emerge from your four-page plot outline. Make just one line for each scene. In one column, list the POV character. In another (wide) column, tell what happens. If you want to get fancy, add more columns that tell you how many pages you expect to write for the scene. A spreadsheet is ideal, because you can see the whole storyline at a glance, and it’s easy to move scenes around to reorder things.

My spreadsheets usually wind up being over 100 lines long, one line for each scene of the novel. As I develop the story, I make new versions of my story spreadsheet. This is incredibly valuable for analyzing a story. It can take a week to make a good spreadsheet. When you are done, you can add a new column for chapter numbers and assign a chapter to each scene.

Step 9) (Optional. I don’t do this step anymore.) Switch back to your word processor and begin writing a narrative description of the story. Take each line of the spreadsheet and expand it to a multi-paragraph description of the scene. Put in any cool lines of dialogue you think of, and sketch out the essential conflict of that scene. If there’s no conflict, you’ll know it here and you should either add conflict or scrub the scene.

I used to write either one or two pages per chapter, and I started each chapter on a new page. Then I just printed it all out and put it in a loose-leaf notebook, so I could easily swap chapters around later or revise chapters without messing up the others. This process usually took me a week and the end result was a massive 50-page printed document that I would revise in red ink as I wrote the first draft. All my good ideas when I woke up in the morning got hand-written in the margins of this document. This, by the way, is a rather painless way of writing that dreaded detailed synopsis that all writers seem to hate. But it’s actually fun to develop, if you have done steps (1) through (8) first. When I did this step, I never showed this synopsis to anyone, least of all to an editor — it was for me alone. I liked to think of it as the prototype first draft. Imagine writing a first draft in a week! Yes, you can do it and it’s well worth the time. But I’ll be honest, I don’t feel like I need this step anymore, so I don’t do it now.

Step 10) At this point, just sit down and start pounding out the real first draft of the novel. You will be astounded at how fast the story flies out of your fingers at this stage. I have seen writers triple their fiction writing speed overnight, while producing better quality first drafts than they usually produce on a third draft.

You might think that all the creativity is chewed out of the story by this time. Well, no, not unless you overdid your analysis when you wrote your Snowflake. This is supposed to be the fun part, because there are many small-scale logic problems to work out here. How does Hero get out of that tree surrounded by alligators and rescue Heroine who’s in the burning rowboat? This is the time to figure it out! But it’s fun because you already know that the large-scale structure of the novel works. So you only have to solve a limited set of problems, and so you can write relatively fast.

This stage is incredibly fun and exciting. I have heard many fiction writers complain about how hard the first draft is. Invariably, that’s because they have no clue what’s coming next. Good grief! Life is too short to write like that! There is no reason to spend 500 hours writing a wandering first draft of your novel when you can write a solid one in 150. Counting the 100 hours it takes to do the design documents, you come out way ahead in time.

About midway through a first draft, I usually take a breather and fix all the broken parts of my design documents. Yes, the design documents are not perfect. That’s okay. The design documents are not fixed in concrete, they are a living set of documents that grows as you develop your novel. If you are doing your job right, at the end of the first draft you will laugh at what an amateurish piece of junk your original design documents were. And you’ll be thrilled at how deep your story has become.

Over the years, I’ve taught the Snowflake method to hundreds of writers at conferences. I’ve also had this article posted here on my web site for a long time, and the page has now been viewed over 6,000,000 times. I’ve heard from many, many writers. Some people love the Snowflake; some don’t. My attitude is that if it works for you, then use it. If only parts of it work for you, then use only those parts.I write my own novels using the Snowflake method. Make no mistake — it’s a fair bit of work. For a long time, I did it the hard way, using Microsoft Word to write the text and Microsoft Excel to manage the list of scenes. Unfortunately, neither of those tools knows about the structure of fiction. Finally, I realized that it would be a whole lot easier to work through the method if the tools were designed specially for fiction.

So one day I decided to create that software. I wanted something that would automate every step that could be automated. The result was a commercial software package I call Snowflake Pro . It makes my own Snowflaking incredibly easier, and it’s now doing the same for zillions of other writers.

Snowflake Pro makes the Snowflake method fast, easy, and fun. It runs on Macs, Windows, and Linux. Currently, I’m running a special promotion that gives a 50% discount on this cool and fun tool for anyone who owns a copy of my book How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method .

Learn more about Snowflake Pro

Ways To Use The Snowflake

Are you struggling right now with a horrible first draft of your novel that just seems hopeless? Take an hour and summarize your story in one sentence. Does that clarify things? You’ve just completed step (1) of the Snowflake, and it only took an hour. Why not try the next few steps of the Snowflake and see if your story doesn’t suddenly start coming to life? What have you got to lose, except a horrible first draft that you already hate?

Are you a seat-of-the-pants writer who finally finished your novel, but now you’re staring at an enormous pile of manuscript that desperately needs rewriting? Take heart! Your novel’s done, isn’t it? You’ve done something many writers only dream about. Now imagine a big-shot editor bumps into you in the elevator and asks what your novel’s about. In fifteen words or less, what would you say? Take your time! This is a thought game. What would you say? If you can come up with an answer in the next hour . . . you’ve just completed Step 1 of the Snowflake! Do you think some of the other steps might help you put some order into that manuscript? Give it a shot. What have you got to lose?

Have you just got a nightmarishly long letter from your editor detailing all the things that are wrong with your novel? Are you wondering how you can possibly make all the changes before your impossible deadline? It’s never too late to do the Snowflake. How about if you take a week and drill through all the steps right now? It’ll clarify things wonderfully, and then you’ll have a plan for executing all those revisions. I bet you’ll get it done in record time. And I bet the book will come out better than you imagined.

If the Snowflake Method works for you, I’d like to hear from you. You can reach me through the contact page on my web-site.

Acknowledgments: I thank my many friends on the Chi Libris list and especially Janelle Schneider for a large number of discussions on the Snowflake and much else.

Best regards,

Randy Ingermanson signature

Randy Ingermanson, Ph.D.


Want to Learn More About the Snowflake Method?

Check out my best-selling book, How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method. This book is a different kind of teaching tool. It uses a story to SHOW you how to write a novel, rather than to TELL you how to write a novel. I used the Snowflake Method to help me write the book, and at the end, you get to see the Snowflake document I created for the book, exactly the way I wrote it.

If you learn best by seeing examples, you might like this book. It’s about a young woman who’s been dreaming all her life about writing a novel. Her parents always told her that fiction writing was “impractical,” and they made her get a practical college degree. But now that she’s married and has two kids in school, she decides to do something just for herself, for once in her life. She’s going to write that novel and nobody is going to stop her. The only thing blocking her is herself.
Available in paper, e-book, and audiobook at these fine retailers:
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About The Author

Randy IngermansonRandy Ingermanson is a theoretical physicist and the award-winning author of six novels. He has taught at numerous writing conferences over the years and publishes the free monthly Advanced Fiction Writing E-zine , the largest electronic magazine in the world on the craft of writing fiction, with over 17,000 readers.

Translations of This Article

This article is immensely popular and has been translated into several languages:

  1. German: Read the German translation here .
  2. German: Read a different German translation here .
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  4. Russian: Read the Russian translation here .
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  6. Spanish: Read the Spanish translation here .
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If you know of other translations, please let me know about them on my Contact page .

Translators: If you’d like permission to do a translation, email me on my Contact Page . After you complete the translation, let me know and I’ll include a link to your translation here.

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Snowflake Pro Software

Snowflake Pro Software

Randy is known around the world as “the Snowflake Guy” for his wildly popular Snowflake method of designing a novel.

Now he’s created software to make the Snowflake method fast, easy, and fun. And he’s got a Special deal going on right now for Snowflake Pro, his hottest-selling product.

Discover how Snowflake Pro can boost your creativity to new heights.

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

How to Write a Novel Using the Snowflake Method

Are you writing a novel, but having trouble getting your first draft written? Take a look at the wildly popular Snowflake Method–ten battle-tested steps to jump-start your creativity and help you quickly map out your story. All around the world, novelists are using the Snowflake Method right now to ignite their imaginations and get their first drafts down.

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How to Write a Dynamite Scene Using the Snowflake Method

How to Write a Dynamite Scene Using the Snowflake Method

If you can write one powerful, amazing scene, you can write a hundred. And that’s a novel. The one goal of this book is to teach you the simple principles you can use right now to design a powerful scene before you write it.

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Writing Fiction for Dummies

Writing Fiction for Dummies

Randy’s best-selling book has become one of the standard textbooks on fiction writing, with more than 80,000 copies sold.

Despite the title, Writing Fiction for Dummies is not for stupid people. It’s for writers who want to write powerful, moving fiction and who are serious about getting their work published.

Find out why Writing Fiction for Dummies is so popular.

Successful Fiction Writing = Organizing + Creating + Marketing

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Nearly every author wonders at some point if they are really using the best book writing software in order to not only organize their novel, but also help them write more effectively and efficiently.

After all, writing a book is a monumental challenge. You don’t need to make it any harder by using weak or cumbersome programs.

Thankfully, the right tools can make writing a book easier, save you time and frustration, and can even make writing a long novel or complicated nonfiction book enjoyable.

But what is the best software for writers?

This article reviews key features and limitations to consider as you choose which software you’ll use to write your next book .

In this article you will learn:

  • A side-by-side comparison of the most popular writing programs
  • Which free tools for writing books are reasonable
  • The only book writer software I will use to write my books

List of Book Writing Software Available

The table below shows a snapshot of the best word processors for writers. The key features displayed in the chart include:

  • Software name
  • Price
  • Special discounts and trial periods
  • Operating system (Mac or PC)
  • Capability to sync between multiple devices
  • Ebook formatting for ePub and MOBI

Compare Writing Software Features

ProgramPriceSpecial DiscountsOperating SystemSyncing CapabilitieseBook Formatting
Scrivener for Mac $45 20% off code MacYes.epub, .docx, PDF, AND MOBI
Scrivener for PC $45 20% off code PCYes.epub, .docx, PDF, AND MOBI
Word $69.99/year Free 1-month trial Mac and PCYes.docx, PDF
Ulysses $39.99/year Free 14-day trial MacYes.epub, .docx, PDF
Google Docs FreeNoneMac and PCYes.epub, .docx, PDF
yWriter FreeNonePC (Mac is in Beta)NoPDF, .html

The above table includes word processors, the tools we use to “write” the book.

However, all authors know there is more to writing a book than just “writing,” so we’ve added book writing software that’s helpful for writing novels, outlining, editing, keeping focused, and formatting below as well.

Best Software for Writing a Book

Below we’ve listed some of the best writing software for creating a book.  They are extensive and will surely help you.

Scrivener Review

Scrivener is an incredibly advanced word processor, project manager, and formatting tool all-in-one. It’s many authors’ favorite set of book writing software because of its rich features. Both Mac and PC users can use it. Read my  complete Scrivener review  and watch my  Scrivener vs Word video for a detailed, visual comparison.  Plus, it offers a discount, which you can find one specific to Kindlepreneur below, or you can access a list of scrivener coupon codes here .

Price: $40 for PC / $45 for Mac *Save 20% if you use this coupon code: KINDLEPRENEUR

Pros/Cons:

+Helpful templates for both fiction and non-fiction
+Format for print and eBooks, including .mobi, .epub, .docx, and .pdf
+Incredibly simple drag and drop capabilities for rearranging
+Corkboard with index cards, split screen, and outliner working views make it ideal for longer or more complicated works
+Store and access research files and notes within your project “binder”
+More affordable than its closest competitors
-Takes time to learn how to use Scrivener’s features

Resources:

–Check out this tutorial on how to format a print book in Scrivener .
–Using Scrivener can actually be easy if you take this step-by-step course .

Check Out Scrivener Here


Ulysses Review

Ulysses is a simple yet powerful and customizable app for writing. Ulysses works on Apple products only, and your work syncs automatically between your devices or you can choose to store work locally.

Price: $39.99/year
Pros/Cons:

+ Export to .pdf, .docx, or .epub easily
+ Clean interface without a lot of distractions
– Price is yearly or monthly subscription model
– Learning curve if you are not familiar with markdown
– Not for PC users

Resources:

–Check out this tutorial for  using Ulysses to export your books .
–Ulysses can be used to hold yourself accountable by using writing goals  as shown in this tutorial.

Check Out Ulysses Here


Microsoft Word Review

book writing software word

Microsoft Word is the word processor many of us are familiar with, and both PC and Mac users can use it on their devices. The biggest problem for Word it was designed for writing anything–not for writing books. It was not created by authors nor for authors. Hence, Word can be tolerable for short writing jobs, however, if you’re really looking for the best book writing software, and Word does not measure up to its competitors. I can show you exactly why I don’t recommend Word in this video, which compares Word vs Scrivener .

Price: $149.99 or $69.99/year for one computer (the price is even more for multiple computers)
Pros/Cons:

+ What you see is what you get formatting
+ Many book editors prefer Word documents
– Difficult to use if you don’t work in a linear fashion
– Cumbersome for writing lengthy novels and other books
– Must use a separate tool, such as Calibre, for ebook formatting

Resources:

–Check out this tutorial for formatting a print book with Word .
–You can also see in this video  how to use Word to format ebooks.

Check Out Word Here

The best software for authors, are you using it? #SelfPub #ScrivenerNotWordClick To Tweet

Free Writing Software

For the economical writers out there looking to step up their game beyond Word, we list the top book writing software that are free here.

Google Docs Review

Google Docs is a web-based application where documents and spreadsheets can be created, edited, and stored online. Our team uses Google Docs for writing our blog posts because it’s the easiest way we’ve found to all work on one document at the same time, add comments, see revisions, and even chat. (Google spreadsheets can also be a useful tool, especially for outlining)

Price: Free
Pros/Cons:

+Access files from anywhere you have the internet
+Files save automatically
+Collaborating with others is a breeze
+Export to .epub, .pdf, or .docx
-Simple editor works fine for short writing, but not for long writing

Resources:

–Check out this video to learn the basics of Google docs.
–Here’s a guide to collaborating like a pro with Google docs.

Check Out Google Docs Here


yWriter Review

book writing software ywriter

yWriter  is a free standalone app designed by an author who was striving to create the best fiction writing software. The yWriter software has been for PCs only, however, an Android version was recently released and there is a beta version for iOS .

Price: Free
Pros/Cons:

+Breaks down novels into chapters and scenes
+Stores snapshot backups of your work automatically
-Does not work on Mac computers yet
-Does not come with templates
-Must use a separate tool, such as Calibre, to create ebooks

Resources:

–Here’s the Quickstart Guide to getting started with yWriter.
–Check out this video to see yWriter in action .

Check Out yWriter Here
A few other free writing software used by authors are Pages , the standard word processor for Apple products, LibreOffice , an open source office suite that works on both PCs and Macs, and WriteMonkey , a Windows word processor that writers enjoy for distraction-free writing as most of its features are well-hidden.

Best Novel Writing Software

Novel writing has its own unique joys and challenges, from outlining to character development. The book writing software below were specifically designed to help fiction authors create their next masterpiece.

Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software Review

best book writing software outlining your novel

Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software  is referred to as the “pre-Scrivener program” because it guides you to think in new ways about your characters and key story beats before you write your first draft in Scrivener. I can almost guarantee your storyline will be better by using this program for in-depth outlining before you start writing. It complements the Outlining Your Novel Workbook by K.M. Weiland  and works on both PC and Macs.

Price: $40
Pros/Cons:

+Export your Scene List to use in Word or Scrivener.
+Create a playlist for your novel
+Easily rearrange the scene order
+Create epic characters by uploading pictures or sketches
+Visualize all your scenes chronologically listed on a calendar

Resources: 

–Take a tour of the Outlining Your Novel Workbook Software here.
–Check out these videos on how to use the Scene List  and how to export it  to use with other word processors.

Check Out Outlining Your Novel Here


Scrivener Again

Scrivener hits #1 on my list of the best novel writing software because you can organize long or complicated content in just about any way imaginable. The ability to have folders right there at your fingertips for characters, places, research notes, front matter, each chapter, and scene can save tons of hours in your novel writing process. I love it so much, that I wrote full scrivener review .

Price: $40 or $45  *Use this discount code to get 20% off: KINDLEPRENEUR
Pros/Cons:

+Helpful templates for both fiction and non-fiction
+Format for print and eBooks, including .mobi, .epub, .docx, and .pdf
+Incredibly simple drag and drop capabilities for rearranging
+Corkboard with index cards, split screen, and outliner working views make it ideal for longer or more complicated works
+Store and access research files and notes within your project “binder”
+More affordable than its closest competitors
+Use professionally designed Scrivener templates
-Takes time to learn how to use Scrivener’s features

Resources:

–See my favorite features and watch a video comparing Scrivener vs Word .
–Check out this tutorial on how to format a print book in Scrivener .
–Using Scrivener can actually be easy if you take this step-by-step course .”
–In case the scrivener coupon code doesn’t work, then use these

Check Out Scrivener Here


StoryShop Review

StoryShop is a lot of fun for creating the worlds, elements, and characters in your novels. (Can you tell I had a little fun playing around with this one?) It’s an online app designed by the storytellers, co-owners of the indie publishing company Sterling & Stone, and hosts of the Self-Publishing Podcast . If you tend to get lost trying to keep track of the details of the worlds and characters you design, StoryShop can help you. Since this software is online, it works on both Mac and PC devices.

Price: $99 per year or $9.99 per month
Pros/Cons:

+Build worlds, create story beats, and write your book within one application
+Comes with story templates to help you write your story faster
+Character cards allow you to keep track of character attributes and relationships.
-Book can only be exported as a .docx
-Subscription model gets expensive and the free version doesn’t include much

Resources:

–Check out how tagging characters and elements is a powerful way to keep track of your story details
–Watch how exporting your book in .docx and story beats for Scrivener works with StoryShop

Check Out StoryShop Here


yWriter Again

book writing software ywriter

yWriter may be the best free novel writing software because it was created by an author and breaks your novel into scenes so it isn’t a huge disorganized mess. There is not yet a version for Macs though, which is a deal-breaker for me…a former Apple employee.

Price: Free
Pros/Cons:

+Breaks down novels into chapters and scenes
+Stores snapshot backups of your work automatically
-Does not work on Mac computers yet
-Does not come with templates
-Must use a separate tool, such as Calibre, to create ebooks

Resources:

–Here’s the Quickstart Guide to getting started with yWriter.
–Check out this video to see yWriter in action .

Check Out yWriter Here

Writing even 30k words in Word is brutal. See which book writing software is best. #WritingTipClick To Tweet

Book Editing Software

No one knows better than me the importance of good editing . While editing software can never replace a real book editor, it can noticeably improve your writing. Editing software can fix typos, make sure you use correct grammar and improve your readability by making it clear and concise. This allows your readers to focus on your message, not your writing blunders.

That’s why, in addition to the built-in spell checkers most word processors include, you should use book editing software too. Here are two of the best free editing tools:

Grammarly Review

book writing software grammarly

Grammarly  is an editing tool that finds spelling, punctuation, and grammar mistakes. It can be used as an online browser extension, a website, or an app to download on your computer.

Price: Free or $139.95 per year for Premium
Pros/Cons:

+Underlines errors, gives explanation, and suggested correction
+Free version seems sufficient
+Your files are stored in the cloud
+browser extension checks your online writing, (but does not yet work with Google Drive apps)
-file upload has a size limit of 4 MB, 60 pages, and 100,000 characters

Resources:

–Read my full  Grammarly review here, including when it’s worth it to pay for the Premium version.
–See Grammarly in action in this video.

Check Out Grammarly Here


Hemingway Editor Review

book writing software hemingway

Hemingway Editor  is an editing tool that improves the clarity of your writing. It can be used as a website or desktop app.

Price: Free
Pros/Cons:

+Highlights passive voice, adverbs, complex words, and sentences that are difficult to read.
+You can copy and paste or type directly into the Hemingway Editor
+Errors are highlighted and color-coded (e.g., green are passive voice)
+Grades your readability by reading level, such as Grade 6
-Doesn’t give suggestions for how to improve writing

Resources:

–Here’s a video overview of the Hemmingway editor.
–Check out how this author  edits a book with Hemingway and Scrivener .

Check Out Hemingway Here


ProWritingAid Review

ProWritingAid is another online editing tool that checks grammar, spelling, overused words, readability and cliches.

Price: Free or Premium is $40 per year or $140 for lifetime access
Pros/Cons:

+Gives lots of reports and data that’s easy to use to quickly improve your writing
+Identifies “sticky sentences,” which often include unnecessary filler words
+Makes suggested changes you can accept or decline
+The premium version can work with Scrivener, Google Docs, and Microsoft Word
-The free version only edits up to 500 words at a time

Resources:

–Here’s my full ProWritingAid review including how it stacks up against Grammarly
–Watch this video to see how to use ProWritingAid with Microsoft Word.

Check Out Pro Writing Aid Here

Other Marketing & Productivity Software For Writers

Writing your book is only half the battle.  We’ve got to be productive as well as market and sell the book.  Here are a couple of tools to help with that two very important parts to not only writing…but being a successful author.


KDP Rocket

Use KDP Rocket for your book marketing research, including hot keywords and AMS advertising .

 

 


Freedom

Use Freedom productivity app to stay focused by blocking distracting websites and apps for scheduled writing sessions.

 

 


Ommwriter

Use Ommwriter  for a calm writing environment and meditative tracks to listen to while you write.

 

 


Book Review Targeter

Use Book Review Targeter to get more targeted reviews for your book .

 

 


Conclusion

For my personal “butt in chair” time, I use Google docs to write my articles because it allows me to better coordinate with my team and my editor. For blog posts, easy collaboration is key.

However, that doesn’t cut it when I have a 30k or even 100k book to write. When writing a book, I need the best book writing software out there.

Basically, I need book writing software that will easily help me to research, outline, reorganize, write, collaborate, and edit. And since I love to publish to CreateSpace , and Draft2Digital , I need to export my books in both ePub and MOBI formats before hitting publish and getting to the fun part of marketing my books. Reedsy offers an in-depth guide to ebook distribution and formats if you need any pointers.

And that’s why Scrivener is the only writing program I use for writing my books.

Furthermore, the price is a bargain for what the program can do, and an added bonus is there’s no monthly or annual fee. It’s a one-time purchase and the best tool for writers can be yours. Plus, you can use my code to save 20% and it’s even more of a deal.

It’s a no-brainer for me. I think Scrivener is the best writing software for authors.

If you’re ready to see how Scrivener can work for you, grab your copy of Scrivener for Mac ( or for PC ) here and use my special Kindlepreneur code KINDLEPRENEUR for 20% off.

Cheers,

dave2

Hey Guys, I’m Dave and when I am not sipping tea with princesses or chasing the Boogey man out of closets, I’m a Kindlepreneur and digital marketing nut – it’s my career, hobby, and passion.

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